2019 January 26: Metanoia
Prayer Gurdjieff (1877-1949) / de Hartmann (1885-1956) [PIANO]
"Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life"
This morning’s Scriptures include Jesus’ proclamation: "Repent, for the Kingdom of the Heavens is at hand!"
The word translated as "repent" is another example of English lacking a word that expresses the depth of the Greek. The English word "repent" has the connotation of "stop doing something that you like", whereas the Greek word METANOIA (meh-TAH-nee-ah) means something quite different: a complete change in your way of thinking. NOUS, NOEŌ, etc. (noun, verb. etc.) are the family of Greek words for ’mind’, ’think’, etc. So "META-NOIA" is something like "change your mind" except that this idiom in English is entirely too shallow for what the Greek word signifies: in English I might "change my mind" about what color socks to wear today, but METANOIA would be more like the alcoholic who wakes up in the gutter, has a conversion experience, and is faithful to Alcoholics Anonymous for the rest of their life.
On a more societal level, examples of METANOIA might include the Magna Carta – the beginning of the end for the ’divine right of kings’ culminating in our own Constitution. Or Copernicus’ model that the Sun is the center of our solar system and not the Earth – an idea whose impact ultimately extended far beyond astronomy.
So as I understand it, METANOIA isn’t "stop doing something fun," but rather "stop doing something that isn’t working for you anymore, that you continue to do out of inertia, and change to a different way of thinking and doing that will work for you much better." So then I ask myself: What aspects of my own life may have worked well enough in times past, but aren’t working so well anymore? I think it’s easier to make those changes when I can see them not so much as ’giving up something I like’, but rather as an opportunity to embrace something much better!